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A former cast of the reality show & # 39; The Apprentice & # 39; who accused Donald Trump of unwanted sexual contact and filed a defamation lawsuit in New York against him has thanked his lawyers and says the case should go forward. (December 5th)
AP

NEW YORK – The lawsuit brought against President Trump by a former contestant at The Apprentice who accused him of fondling her and then defacing her came a little closer on Tuesday to a decision on whether the case should go to trial.

In clashes in court arguments, Summer Zervos' attorneys said she suffered threats after Trump publicly said she had "invented" her claims in a politically motivated effort to help Hillary Clinton beat him in the presidency. of 2016 race.

Trump "can not be allowed to attack a woman who described her sexual touch and was allowed to go free," argued lawyer Zervos Mariann Meier Wang during the one-hour hearing before M Judge of the Supreme Court of Manhattan, Jennifer Schecter.

Marc Kasowitz, Trump's personal lawyer, said that Trump did not say anything bad while defending himself. He also argued that the case can not be tried legally in a state court, and should be dismissed or at least delayed.

Citing the supremacy clause of the US Constitution. UU. He said Trump's motion to dismiss the case "has nothing to do with putting anyone on the law." Instead, he said it was "to protect the president's ability to fulfill his constitutional mandate."

Schecter did not issue an immediate ruling on the motion for dismissal, saying he would study the court's arguments and legal writs before making a decision in the case that could set precedents.

Zervos, who sat silently at the bottom The Manhattan court behind his lawyers, is among a dozen women who publicly accused Trump of bad sexual behavior during last year's presidential race. But she is the first to sue him.

Presented in January, her lawsuit alleges that Trump "ambushed" her more than once in 2007, six years before being elected president, kissing her in the mouth, touching her breast, and pressing her genitals against her.

Zervos also accused Trump of defaming her during campaign rallies and through Twitter, her favorite social networking platform. At a campaign stop on October 15, 2016 in Maine, Trump alluded to Zervos by referring to "false accusations and outright lies, in an effort to elect the president of Hillary Clinton," the suit alleges.

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Summer Zervos accused Donald Trump of having fondled her, and she filed a defamation lawsuit after calling his accusations a lie.
Video provided by Newsy
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Trump has denied Zervos' accusations, which echo the claims of other women. Trump has dismissed them as false.

During Tuesday's court hearing, Kasowitz claimed that Trump's statements about Zervos were constitutionally protected statements in which he defended himself.

This combined photo shows President Trump listening during a White House meeting in 2017 on health care, and Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice" ", at a press conference in 2016 where she accused Trump of having unwanted sexual contact with her at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2007. (Photo: Associated Press)

Trump's attorneys rely on some of the legal arguments that President Bill Clinton's lawyers made when he was indicted in a 1994 lawsuit for alleged sexual assault. Paula Jones alleged that the attack occurred in 1991 when she was an employee of the state of Arkansas and Clinton was the governor of the state.

More: Trump borrows Bill Clinton's legal strategy while fighting a defamation suit

The US Supreme Court UU It allowed the case to be processed in a federal court. After a four-year legal battle, Clinton agreed to pay an agreement of $ 850,000.

Both sides in the Zervos case said there has been no final decision on whether a current US president can be sued in state court for allegations that do not involve official White House duties.

Kasowitz cited a footnote in the Clinton-Jones Supreme Court decision to support his argument that the Zervos case should be dismissed or postponed until Trump's term ends.

the control of a state court over the president … may involve concerns that are quite different "from the problems in the Jones case.

When Schecter asked if he believed that she could not preside over the lawsuit, Kasowitz replied: "Not with respect to the president, his honor."

Schecter noted that the footnote "leaves the issue open," without deciding the problem.

"What better court to hear again a defamation case a New Yorker born and raised, "that some of the supposedly improper statements just a few miles from the courthouse, Wang argued.

Wang added that Zervos legal team would accommodate Trump By signing sworn depositions of him around his White House Schedule – or even keeping them in the middle of presidential golf outings on his Mar-a-Florida Lake estate.

Kasowitz declined to comment after the hearing. Zervos said little publicly apart from thanking his lawyers. As he made his way through a crowd of television photographers and still, his counselor Gloria Allred said that Zervos had shown "admirable courage" in challenging Trump.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kevin McCoy on Twitter: @ kmccoynyc

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